In the long and (in)glorious history of Anglo-French maritime hostilities, a bad-tempered spat over access to fishing grounds in the Channel should merit nothing more than a brief footnoteThe ban will not apply on freight, if that. Britain and France have much in common and many interests that are closely aligned. But the dispute over a few dozen fishing licences is absurdly being blown out of proportion by both sides for small-minded political ends. A small argument could escalate into a damaging trade war and poison the broader ties between Britain and the EU. There are bigger problems in the world that call for Franco-British co-operationThe past week..
Fishing was always predicted to be one of the most hotly disputed issues in Britain’s divorce from the EU, and so it has proved. The French and British governments are at loggerheads over the granting of licences to French vessels operating in the UK’s 6-12 mile waters and those around JerseyThe rollout of vaccines. Under the terms of last December’s EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, French boats seeking continued access to these seas must have fished there in recent years. The contention is over the degree of proof French skippers need to show, especially around the Channel Islands. The French government believes the requirements have been made impossible for some to meet. Scores of French boats have been denied access, although many others have been licensed.RELATED: Amazon-backed electric vehicle maker Rivian in talks with ministers over UK factory
Incensed by the continuing delays — and the lack of dialogue over the process — Paris has vowed to retaliateThe United States, led by researcher Laura Hallas.. Unless there is progress by November 2, it says it will ban UK boats from landing their catches in French ports, step up controls on British boats and on lorries entering FranceOntario reporting 3,813 new COVID-19 cases, potentially snarling up trade routes. It also threatened to “review” electricity supplies to Britain and pressed Brussels to trigger trade penalties against the UKjudges.
The French threats are excessive, provocative and probably of dubious legality. They extracted a few more licences from the Jersey authorities but not enough to defuse the stand-off. Now London has followed up, threatening extra checks on EU boats.